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I can't write a clickbait title, because I'm always on the fence!

I was inspired to write this post, when recently an individual who read this blog, without being familiar with me or my writing, accused me of suggesting certain choices were "virtuous". My first reaction was slight confusion, because that's not a term I'd use and not part of how I look at things, my second reaction was to look back and see if I had worded something in a way that might seem innocuous to me, but be taken differently by someone looking at it through the lens of their different life experience - it's important to me to be inclusive. But what I realised, is that often people are looking for the polarity, and wanting to know which side of a situation you are batting for.

Everyone likes to have a tribe. Schoolkids have the nerds and the sporty ones. Adults have football teams. Dog people, cat people. In my dance background I have encountered tribalism between dancers of different styles.

I am not a very good tribalist. At school I was neither one of the popular kids, or one of the nerds. I just did me. I wasn't on any sports teams, but I didn't hate exercise so much as the pushy team culture. As a bellydancer I am both an Egyptian and Tribal Fusion style performer. I like dogs and cats. And chickens. I am ambivalent about Marmite.

I'm like an anthropomorphism of Switzerland. Frustratingly neutral, perpetually reasonable, never take sides. Slightly lacking in the chocolate department. That sort of thing can be isolating, because human beings love to take sides and form allegiances, but as a trainer and coach, it turns out to be a great advantage.

Having all the answers is cool and sexy... but is it helpful?


When I was doing my Personal Trainer qualifications I met a lot of dichotomies in the fitness world. Camps that we are supposed to be split into. Intrinsic core training vs extrinsic. Functional vs conventional training. People who love Crossfit vs people who think it's the worst thing ever.

Well... I find intrinsic core training very useful for people who have core control issues, from postnatal women with pelvic floor issues, which have a huge knock on effect, to lifters who struggle to brace without blowing out their abs and losing tension - or suffering from incontinence. But I also see no need to isolate the core to build strength when it is working perfectly well in movements like deadlifts and kettlebell swings.

I love functional training, it's my bag, but I recognise that some people might prefer other kinds, and I also train some clients who can't engage with many functional methods for health reasons. I still train them, because it's about their needs not my preferences.

I also enjoy Crossfit, but I train on an ad hoc basis - I'm not a member of my local box (although it's brilliant). I see its limitations and its benefits.

I'm passionate about a lot of things (natural geek), but passion shouldn't exclude or alienate people - can you be inspiring and guide like minded people towards your interests, without throwing out the baby with the bathwater?


Diet Agnostic


I am currently working on my Precision Nutrition level 1 certification (so nearly there I can taste it...). PN describe themselves as "Diet Agnostic". Student coaches are taught that when someone asks "what is the best diet" we reply with "that depends..." Can you see why I love the PN ethos?

It does depend. On your lifestyle, your budget, your social circles, your ethical or religious preferences, your genetics, your training regimen, your personal taste, there is no perfect meal plan for everyone, there are no weird tricks.

I know that's not as exciting as being able to say "I have all the answers, follow my simple plan and your life will be amazing, everything you ever wanted will fall into your lap", but life just isn't like that, you have to take the journey yourself Dorothy. [extra points to anyone who got that meta-reference]

The problem with "having all the answers" is that when the prescribed plan doesn't work for a particular client, that becomes their problem, their failure, their shame to carry. It shouldn't be.

Coaching from an amoral standpoint.


I don't believe in good and bad clients. I believe in human beings who have a lot going on in their lives. I don't believe in good or bad foods. I believe in choices and consequences and owning them.

Often, at the beginning of working with me, clients will come to me, perhaps with their food diaries and say something like "this was a bad day" or "I failed at this week". So I say "it looks like you are being really hard on yourself, let's look at what happened". And you know what? It's never as "bad" as they think.

I don't find it useful to define good actions or bad actions. I think about the choices that take us closer to our goals, or not. So if you are trying to lose weight and eat a large takeout you hadn't planned to, you aren't bad. Your choice wasn't bad. It was the choice you made in that situation for your own reasons. It is what it is.

It's like you are on a road trip, and you decide to make an unscheduled rest stop. Maybe you just really needed to pee. Or maybe you decided to take the scenic route because the motorway is dull. Or you realised you could take a bit of a diversion to go and cheer up your elderly aunt. All of these will result in you getting there later, but you get to decide whether it is worth the trade off.

Now they might come to regret that trade off later, and that's cool too, that's great learning material right there. What stopped you from making the choice you hoped to? What was the spanner in the works? How can we gameplan this to make it easier in future?

Stumbling blocks and "bad days" are actually one of my favourite things, it's like a neon sign saying "THIS IS THE THING THIS PERSON NEEDS TO LOOK AT TO MAKE MORE PROGRESS TOWARDS THEIR GOAL!" And that's a lot of neon.

Nutrition and lifestyle choices are not sinful


How you choose to live your life is your call. It is not up to me to judge, or advise unless you ask me to. If you want to know the impact of eating certain less healthy foods, or of maintaining a certain body composition, I can tell you, because that's my job. If you make an informed choice to increase your risk of contracting a health condition because you prefer the lifestyle that heads that way, that's up to you. Equally if you choose to sacrifice part of your social life to enable you to stick to a restrictive, highly planned diet, that is also your call. I'm not here to tell you how to live your life, I'm here to listen to your goals, and help you get there as comfortably and healthily as possible.

In many ways my work as a trainer reminds me of my work as a doula. I can give you information, I can help you go through potentially enormous life changes the way that works best for you, but I won't make your choices for you, and I won't judge your choices either.

Food is not just nutrition, it's woven into your life. Nobody but you lives in your body, nobody but you can choose your goals and values. While supporting people in good health is my role, it is something I do while considering that health is about a whole host of factors that make it impossible to brand the majority of choices as "good" or "bad".

If you are interested in tailor made nutrition and health coaching, you should check out Lotus Bloom, a variant of my online Personal Training service focussed on achievably honing your nutrition, exercise, recovery, stress levels and mindset to achieve your health and fitness goals.

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